Hiring managers believe that the most efficient way to measure a job applicant’s potential future performance is to question candidates about their previous work experience and job performance. These questions are called behavioral job interview questions. These are common job interview questions.
However, when you’re fresh out of university, you usually do not yet have any experience in the industry for which you’re applying. In such a case, it’s impossible for recruiters to discuss your previous work experience. In this blog, common job interview questions are discussed to make sure that you will come well prepared for your interview.
This is why interviewers use competency-based interview questions. These questions require you to provide information about how you have performed in different kinds of situations in the past. The goal of the interviewer is to uncover your personality traits. For interviewers, this is the perfect way to assess who you are and how you will most likely perform if you get hired for the job.
There are also situations in which the interviewer is looking to uncover non-specific information instead of just evaluating a specific skill or competency. Usually, the interviewer is trying to assess specific competencies that they believe successful candidates should possess. In this case, they tailor their job interview questions to specifically focus on those competencies.
Also, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.
Read everything about the most common interview questions here. Learn more about questions to ask the interviewer here.
Examples of common job interview questions
Tell me about yourself
This question is asked in almost any job interview. Interviewers have several reasons for asking this question. It’s important that you answer this question in a relevant and concise way. Give them an answer that shows that your key strengths are relevant to the job you’re applying for and give examples to support your claims.
It’s easy to trail off when talking about yourself. Keep your focus and pitch the interviewer with professional achievements and experiences that relate to the requirements for the job. If you can quantify your results, this is even better. Quantifying results can give more weight to your answers.
Explain to the interviewer how your previous work experience makes you the best candidate for this job.
Other ways the interviewer can ask you the same question:
- Describe your personality
- Walk me through your resume
- How would you describe yourself?
Read more on how you should answer interview questions about yourself and why interviewers ask these questions
Tell me how you found out about the position
Just like interviewers like to ask you about yourself, they are usually also interested in how you found out about the job vacancy. For you, this is a great moment to take advantage of this question to demonstrate your suitability and connection to the organization.
For instance, if you were referred to the position by somebody who already works there or somebody who used to work there, you can tell the interviewer this plus why you were excited when you found out. If you found the job on a job board or professional network site like LinkedIn, you can share this as well. Your goal is to explain to the interviewer what caught your eye about the position and why you have applied.
What do you already know about our company?
Before you go to a job interview, you should already have done your homework on the job and the company. There are several important elements that focus on when you’re researching a company.
Start with touring the company website to learn more about the mission, values, and commercial activities of the company. If you already know people at the company, make sure you talk to them before the interview to get more insight information. This information can help you learn more about the company culture and how the position fits into your career goals.
In your answer to questions about what you already know about, the company focus on making it personal. Tell the interviewer what you know about the company goals and mission and how these relate to your personal career goals and why the job is the right one for you at this point in your career.
Based on your research, also make sure that you have some questions ready to ask the interviewers during the interview. Learn more about researching a company and analyzing a job description.
What are your greatest strengths?
In job interviews in general, the interview questions about your strengths and how they enhance your performance almost always get asked. Interviewers often ask this question to assess whether or not you’re qualified for the job you’re applying for.
Another reason for asking about your strengths is to see if you’re self-aware and if you have self-knowledge. Make sure that you highlight strengths that are related to the position that you’re applying for. Furthermore, give specific examples of how you demonstrated those strengths in professional work situations in the past. The best way to do answer behavioral interview questions is by using the STAR interview technique.
Learn more about answering job interview questions about strengths and find example answers here.
Why do you want this job?
Interviewers ask you this question for multiple reasons. First of all, they want to know how self-aware you are and why this job is the right step in your career.
Your answer should reflect how excited you are about the job and how genuinely attracted you are to the opportunity. Furthermore, the interviewer wants to know if the job that you’re applying for is in line with your career goals. Make sure that your answers reflect this and explain how the position will benefit your professional plans. Also, include in your answers what makes the role a great fit for you.
Read more about answering ‘why do you want this job?’ plus example answers here.
Why should we hire you?
When you’re asked this question, you should view it as a great opportunity to demonstrate your suitability for the job to the interviewer.
It’s important that your answer shows that your previous work experience helped you get ready to make this step. Also, tell the interviewer that you not only can live up to the expectations but explain to him or her that you fit into the team and company culture.
Other ways the interviewer can ask you a similar kind of question:
- What do you have to offer to this position?
- Why do you think you are the best candidate for this job?
- What makes you the right fit for this job?
Learn more on how to answer ‘why should we hire you?’ plus example answers here.
Tell me about your weaknesses
Just like you should be able to answer interview questions about your strengths, you should be able to discuss your weaknesses. It’s very important that you are able to discuss weaknesses. For interviewers, it’s a red flag if you can’t.
Everybody has development points and skills that can be improved. The interviewer also knows that nobody’s perfect, so don’t worry if he or she asks you about your weaknesses.
Learn more about discussing your skills that need improvement and how to answer such questions.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
Interview questions about your achievements are often asked during job interviews. Interviewers ask about your accomplishments for several reasons. First and foremost, the interviewer is interested in your character, work ethic, and core values.
Questions about your accomplishments are so-called ‘behavioral job interview questions.’ Behavioral job interview questions focus on work situations that you experienced in the past. The way you respond to such questions and the information you give the interviewer reveals a lot about your skills, abilities, and personality.
Learn more about discussing your professional accomplishments and answer questions about them.
Tell me about a challenging situation you’ve faced at work. How did you deal with it?
In a job interview, there are certain job interview questions that are frequently asked to assess your suitability for the position. Questions about challenges at work may seem difficult to answer, but you can use them to your advantage to discuss a great challenge that you were able to turn into a big accomplishment.
This type of question is called a behavioral interview question. Just like other behavioral job interview questions, it’s important to prepare scenarios before the actual interview. By doing so, it’s easier to bring up concrete examples during the interview without hesitating. The best way to do this is by using the STAR interview technique.
Find more information about discussing challenging situations here.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is a question to uncover your career goals. Basically, career goals are milestones that you hope to achieve as you progress in your career. Your career goals are just as important as your qualifications, education, and professional experience. It’s very likely that the interviewer will ask you about your plans for the next five to ten years.
Interviewers ask you about your career plans for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, they want to know whether or not you plan on staying at the company for a while or if you are likely to leave if you get another opportunity. Second, it shows if you have a plan in your career and how you plan on developing yourself. Furthermore, your answer gives them an understanding of if your professional goals and expectations of the position match what they can offer you.
Learn more about how you should answer interview questions about your career goals.
Why are you leaving your job?
When preparing for an interview, keep in mind that the interviewer will most likely ask you the reason why you need the job you’re applying for or if you’ve worked in an organization previously, why you left.
Many people have failed to land the job because they focused their answer based on the past or the negative experiences they encountered instead of introducing the interviewer to a brighter future the company will be entering once they’re hired.
This is an opportunity for you to sell yourself to the employer. You should give an answer that puts you in the spotlight without you having to degrade your previous employer or the company you worked with.
Learn more about answering interview questions about why you left your job.
Tell me about your employment gap on your resume
During your career, there may be times where, for whatever reason, you need to take some time off. This could be by choice, for instance, if you had a child, had a sabbatical to travel the world, or if you went back to school to get your education and knowledge levels up. However, it could also be for other reasons that you had no influence on. For instance, if you got laid off or you got fired from your job, and you needed time to find new work.
When you’re going to a job interview, and your resume get’s brought up, it’s common that interviewers ask about your work history. If there’s a gap in your employment history or if there are years in between that aren’t accounted for, you should be able to explain why things and what situations occurred.
Learn more about answer interview questions about employment gaps.
Describe your management style
When you’re interviewing for a more senior or supervisor position, it’s likely that a question will come up about your leadership style. However, it’s possible that this question is asked to candidates for other levels in the company too. In that case, questions about management styles are meant to uncover whether someone has the potential to possibly manage a team in the future.
Interviewers are interested in whether or not you can motivate employees, and if you possess the skills to delegate efficiently and effectively. Therefore, make sure that you have several answers prepared that demonstrate this through a work situation that you experienced in the past.
Other ways the interviewer can ask the same question:
- Tell me about your management style
- Describe your leadership style
- What do you think makes a good manager?
Learn more about describing your leadership style.
What type of work environment do you prefer?
When the interviewer asks you this question, you should, of course, give an answer that relates to the type of work environment that the company has. Try to be specific and give examples of situations in which you thrive — for instance, fast-paced environments.
Learn more about company cultures here.
Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership
Regardless of the level of the position that you’re applying for, you can always expect questions about leadership. It’s a common misconception that leadership questions are only asked during job interviews for management positions. Therefore, it’s important that you prepare several examples about how you demonstrated your leadership skills in the past, should this interview question come up. This way, you can always take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills to convince the interviewer that you’re the right person for the job.
Other ways the interviewer can ask you about your leadership skills in the form of behavioral interview questions:
- Tell me about a time you delegated effectively
- How would you describe your leadership style?
- Describe a time when you took the lead on a difficult team project
- Tell me about a time when you led by example
Learn more about answering questions about times you demonstrated leadership
Tell me why you changed careers
If you’re changing careers, there are probably multiple reasons for you to do this. It is, however, important that you are able to convey your reasons during a job interview. Making a career change can have a significant impact on your (professional) life, and there requires extensive preparation. Before going to your job interview, you should spend some time coming up with a strategy that will help you convince the interviewer that you’re making the right career change.
Besides answering the popular question ‘why do you want to change careers?‘ you need to be able to answer questions that demonstrate the skills needed for the job. These questions are called ‘behavioral job interview questions.’ They focus on professional work situations that you experienced in your career. The way you respond to these questions tells the interviewer more about your work methods, skills, and abilities. The best way to do this is by using the STAR interview technique.
Learn more about answering questions about changing careers.
Learn more about common job interview questions.
Common Job Interview Questions & Answers
Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic